Learn English – How does one correctly use “q.v.”


Wikitionary mentions offhand that "q.v." is used to reference material, but the definition it gives is far too sparse for my taste. My question is, what does "q.v." stand for and when should one use it? How does it compare with "cf.", for example?

Best Answer

q.v. stands for the phrase   quod vide : "on this (matter) go see"

Cf. is used chiefly to refer to articles proving or documenting one's point or having authority, not to avoid treating a particular aspect in the course of the writing.

Compared to cf., most authors restrict the use of q.v. to refer to another part of the same work (usually a book) where they treat with the subject matter. This is also used to advise the reader to read another work they endorse.

In a monograph or a large book there is seldom one perfect way of serially organizing all content. q.v. is a means for the author to help readers learn more at their leisure.

  • without making footnotes
  • without distracting or boring people already knowledgeable
  • without repeating part of the material

On critical editions, you will sometimes find q.v. in margin comments or apostilles as a quick comment for a quote, giving its source.